What: Shares of Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE:CCE), an independent bottler of Coke products in Europe, soared on Friday following reports that the company is considering a merger with two other bottlers. The stock rose as much as 15% and by 1:15 p.m. was up roughly 13% from the previous close.
So what: Coca-Cola Enterprises is one of many bottlers for Coca-Cola products, and Coke has been making an effort to consolidate bottling operations around the world to cut costs. Coke ships its syrups to the bottlers, which are then responsible for bottling and distribution to clients like grocery stores.
The rumored merger would include Coca-Cola Enterprises, the German Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke, and Coca-Cola Iberian Partners, which servers Spain and Portugal. The result would be a consolidation of Coke's bottling operations in Europe, simplifying and streamlining production on the continent.
Now what: Any deal would be a big one. Coca-Cola Enterprises has a market cap of $12 billion after today's rise, and an analyst from Susquehanna International estimates that the Iberian bottler could sell for $5 billion, while the German bottler could cost as much as $7 billion. An acquisition of both companies would require some combination of equity and debt, potentially being highly dilutive.
At this point, the deal is far from done, and it's not clear whether a merger would actually be beneficial to Coca-Cola Enterprises' bottom line. Buying shares of a company solely on the hope that a merger or acquisition takes place is rarely a good idea, and in this case, any deal would likely benefit Coca-Cola itself more than the actual bottlers.